It doesn’t burn any gasoline, and a full battery recharge—for up to 250 miles, Tesla says—will cost you less than $10 on your electricity bill. Compare that to the $60 it would cost to run a 12.5-mpg supercar of similar performance on $3-a-gallon gasoline.
Now, no one buys a $109,000 two-seat sportscar to save money. But the Tesla’s green credentials are unimpeachable: Even if it is recharged by plugging into the dirtiest electric grid in the nation, it emits less carbon per mile (on a “wells-to-wheels” basis) than any 25-mile-per-gallon car out there.
In California, which has a fairly low-carbon grid, the Tesla is notably better than a 50-mpg Toyota Prius. And for that reason—its lowest-in-class wells-to-wheels carbon output per mile, including the emissions of the power plants used to recharge it—the 2011 Tesla Roadster 2.5 gets the highest score we can give on our Green Rating scale.
Because it uses no fuel, its fuel economy is not rated by the Environmental Protection Agency. Nor is the Roadster offered with any alternative powertrains, such as a hybrid or a diesel. It wouldn’t be a Tesla Roadster if it were.